Child Death Review Panel Recommends Increased Water Safety

A review by the BC Coroners Service Child Death Review Panel into the drowning deaths of 35 children and youth between 2007 and 2013 has identified the need for more effective water safety measures.  The panel’s report recommends that local governments consider establishing a bylaw that requires barrier fencing to limit child access to backyard pools. 

The report recommends that the bylaw contain the following requirements:

  • 4-sided fencing with a minimum height of 1.22 m (4 feet);
  • self-closing and self-latching gate;
  • retrofitting of 4-sided fencing for existing pools; and,
  • includes in-ground, above-ground and inflatable pools.

It is also suggested that the bylaw could be supplemented with increased water safety and drowning prevention education.

A total of 61 local governments were identified as having backyard pool bylaws (57 municipalities and four regional districts).  However, it was determined that the bylaws were not uniform across all jurisdictions, and that in many cases the existing bylaws allowed a backyard pool to be surrounded by three-sided fencing where the house is used as the fourth-side perimeter. The review found that in all of the backyard pool drowning deaths, the fencing surrounding the pool was three-sided with the house used as the fourth-side perimeter, suggesting that this type of fencing presents a greater potential for child access to the pool directly from the house.

A copy of the news release can be found here.

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